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Lawmakers, Academic Medicine Leaders Make Case for Research Recovery Needs

April 30, 2021

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CONTACTS
Christa Wagner, Senior Legislative Analyst

Bipartisan members of the House of Representatives and leaders in academic medicine both recently emphasized the need for one-time funding to enable federal research agencies to address pandemic-related impacts to research progress.

Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) — the lead sponsors of the Research Investment to Spark the Economy Act (RISE, H.R. 869) — sent an April 23 letter urging the administration’s support for the funding included in the RISE Act [refer to Washington Highlights, Feb. 5]. The RISE Act would direct $25 billion in supplemental funds to federal research agencies, including $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health.

“We believe it is vital that the Administration prioritize measures to spur the recovery of our nation’s basic research enterprise from the harmful impacts of the pandemic,” the representatives said in the letter to Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Shalanda Young and Office of Science and Technology Policy Acting Director Kei Koizumi.

“Funding is needed to allow federal agencies to support research and researchers, by providing research grant and contract supplements for expenses arising from COVID-19 related impacts; emergency relief to sustain research support personnel and some base operating costs for core research facilities and user-funded research services; and support for additional graduate student and postdoc fellowships, traineeships, and research assistantships,” they added.

The AAMC and 325 other members of the higher education and research communities have endorsed the RISE Act and have been urging lawmakers to provide the supplemental funding outlined in the bill.

In an April 27 opinion piece in the Hill, AAMC President and CEO David Skorton, MD, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, and Dean of the Medical Faculty of the School of Medicine, Chief Executive Officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine and Vice President for Medicine for Johns Hopkins University Paul B. Rothman, MD, outlined the challenges that the pandemic has posed for the research workforce and for projects unrelated to COVID-19.

“The pandemic, while demonstrating the ability of science to save lives, threatens to erode our nation’s scientific progress. As President Biden and Congress discuss important and necessary infrastructure proposals, we urge them to also protect ongoing research by providing federal agencies with supplemental funding to support studies interrupted by COVID-19,” they wrote.

“The pandemic has taught us that investment in research pays huge dividends, sometimes in unexpected ways. We must invest in our research infrastructure to regain our momentum and ensure that we do not impede the scientific pipeline of discoveries or lose the next generation of scientists,” the academic medicine leaders concluded.

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